Jason Mitchell Kahn (he/his/him)
Meet Jason Mitchell Kahn owner of JMK & Co. an event planning business. Jason's core ideals include inclusivity for all and anti-racism with a goal of working with vendors who uphold the same values. He is also a playwright with two NYC premier plays and author of Getting Groomed.
Jason Mitchell Kahn (he/him/his) - gay male
Question 1: We first connected through our Advocate Program - you are a Top Wedding Planner out of NYC. How did you get into Wedding Planning?
Not via a straightforward path! After college I moved to New York with an education and aspirations to work in the theatre, primarily as a writer. Like so many aspiring artists my first side job was as a server in a restaurant which eventually evolved into working in events and catering at a venue. I continued to write plays, but because of the place I was working at, I also got tons of experience and exposure in running everything from birthday parties, baby showers, fashion shows, book launches, movie premiers and what I discovered to be my favorite: weddings. After I started doing them regularly it began to click for me. My passion as a writer could also be expressed through event ideation with weddings. Once I was telling love stories on a regular basis there was no looking back.
Question 2: Tell us how the wedding scene has changed over the last year with the pandemic. What have you done to adjust?
Every industry has been wildly impacted. For me the most important thing at the beginning of the pandemic was to advocate for safety. I live in New York and we were hit very hard right at the beginning. None of us understood what was ahead. But I always knew weddings would be resilient since the desire for couples to marry never goes away. Weddings have taken place during worse times. For me it was always a priority to try understanding the scope of what we were all living with to help my clients make informed decisions. Of the fifteen or so weddings that I was supposed to do last year, only three still took place and they looked very different than what was originally planned. But for those three couples, keeping their date and making their relationship legally bound was more important than what the in-person experience would be. One had 10 people in person and hundreds on zoom. Another we changed venues so the entire reception could be outdoors for a fraction of the original guest count. For my other couples there was tremendous time spent on rescheduling, renegotiating and reorganizing.
Question 3: As we look into the future of wedding planning what is the top piece of advice you have been giving to couples?
Always remember the most important thing is that you’ve found the person you want to marry, and no matter what variables come into play that may affect how you celebrate that, it doesn’t change the love you have for each other.
Question 4: Several months ago you joined our exclusive group of wedding professionals to become a Dash of Pride Advocate. What does that mean to you? Why did you choose to sign on?
I live my life full of pride. I came out when I was 17 years old and never looked back. My career is very tied into how I identify. I write queer stories and plan a lot of same-sex weddings. It’s an honor to find more opportunities to be a voice for the areas where are community is underrepresented.
Question 5: On top of being an amazing wedding planner you are also an author and a playwright. Tell us about what you have written and how that has impacted your life.
I’ve written two plays that both had New York premiers and have since had multiple productions. The first, THE RED BOX, is a historical love story that begins with the two teenage men in 1930’s Germany. One is Jewish and the other is not. As the history we’re familiar with unfolds they cannot remain together. I wanted to tell the story of what is often considered a forgotten chapter of gay history, mainly because so few survived to pass it on. The story covers some dark chapters, but it is ultimately about love, hope and perseverance.
My second play, THE BOYS UPSTAIRS, began as a reflection of the life I was living at the time. It centers around three gay best friends in their twenties living in Hells Kitchen. It is a comedy about sex, dating, friendship and all the blurry lines in between.
My book came along when I was discovering weddings as we discussed earlier. Before same-sex marriage passed on the national level it was a movement happening state by state. When it legalized in New York everyone in the events industry was talking about the opportunities that were going to come with same-sex weddings. So I pitched and idea and landed a book deal to publish the first wedding planner for gay grooms.
Most of what I’ve written since then are in various stages of development as I’m quite busy all the time planning weddings. I also write a lot about weddings, including a monthly column for Men’s Vows.
I recently finished my third play with a collaborator which literally brings everything I love in life together. It’s called SAY YES TO THE MESS.
Question 6: Let’s talk about coming out as I think this has been an important part of your journey in life. How old were you when you had your first thought about being gay? When did you finally come out?
I was 15 when I started realizing I was attracted to men. While prior to then I exhibited just about every stereotype of a gay child, it wasn’t connected to sexuality to me. I was bullied constantly as I was a short, effeminate kid who hated sports and loved theatre. By the time I was in high school I had carved out my safe space amongst the other theatre kids and found some of the other guys who were like me. I’m also fortunate to come from a family that has always been liberal and open-minded. We used to joke about how boring the conversation was the night I finally told my parents as they had been waiting for me to tell them for a while.
Question 7: As we talk about family you have a sister who is also part of the LGBTQ+ community. You spoke about how different your experiences were. Did having a sibling identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community help either of you as you went through your journey to self discovery? How has that been for your family?
Yes my sister also identifies as part of the community, but are lives have always been and still are very different. We weren’t particularly close at the time I came out, which later she was able to identify for herself as the period of her utmost repression. But she was able to observe how freeing it was for me, and for lack of a better term, how it really just got better. When she discovered later on that she liked women I was her first call. And I’d say from that moment the walls came down and we’ve been so close ever since. Our parents are amazing. If they’re asked what it’s like to have your only two kids be gay they often say they got lucky twice.
Question 8: What does Pride mean to you?
More than half of my years lived have been since I came out, and trying to live as authentically as possible has led to a life I’m proud of. I look at not only the unique and incredible biological family I have but also the chosen family of so many incredible friendships. It’s awesome. Having that with a career that excites me is pretty fulfilling. And as a history lover I am always reminded of how unique our time is. I don’t think the characters from my first play ever thought gay people would marry.
Question 9: What does it mean to be a part of the Dash of Pride Champions Community?
All of those things I just mentioned would not have been available if it wasn’t for the hard work done by others. I feel a deep sense of responsibility as a human being that we all must consciously work to make this world a better place. I am trying to always find ways to make the work I do bigger than just for the couples or the audiences that are in immediate reach. When I think there are still countries where it’s illegal to be gay or how children are still sold into marriages I know there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Check out more about Jason Mitchell Kahn:
- website: Jason Mitchell Kahn & Co.
- Instagram: @MrJasonMitchell
- Facebook: JasonMitchellKahnandCo
- Twitter: @MrJasonMitchell
- Book: Purchase a copy of Getting Groomed